4 Reasons Why Performance Reviews, like Spinach, Are Good For You

By Juan Gonzalez, Principal, Axiom Consulting Partners

January 3, 2012

A recent Wall Street Journal article, “Performance Reviews Lose Steam,” reports that some companies are abandoning traditional performance review processes. Here’s the comment I shared on the Journal’s website:

“Scrapping performance management because no one likes it is a lot like allowing children not to eat spinach because they say it's yucky. It’s not that spinach can’t taste good, but rather that children (and perhaps their parents) may not have had very good experiences with it.

In many ways performance management is similar to getting children to each their spinach:

1. It helps you grow – Assure employees that performance management is about strengthening their character and core, not a punishment.

2. Less is more – Over processing (or measuring performance against too many goals) will dilute its benefits. Set two or three goals and provide plenty of feedback so employees can improve their performance in those areas. Setting too many goals is like trying to serve spinach, cauliflower, green beans and brussel sprouts at every meal.

3. It benefits from proper use - For example, if the principal objective of performance management is development and continuous improvement, focus on effectively giving and receiving feedback. (Spinach is better in a salad or on a pizza than for dessert.)

4. It’s nothing to be afraid of – Both suffer from a bad rap, but those who know good performance management (and good spinach for that matter), can’t get enough of it.

I've seen plenty of situations where performance management — properly designed and delivered — has helped organizations, their employees and leaders grow and develop. Just because current processes are unpleasant or don’t add value is no reason to eliminate the practice – rather it is an indication that the practice needs to change.”

How does your organization handle performance reviews? And to you have any plans to change your approach?

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